When you launch a freelance career, you picture the end goal: great income from work you enjoy doing while having true control over your schedule. That’s 100% attainable, but before it becomes a reality, you need to find some clients.
Whether a freelance graphic design is intended to be your full time career or just a part time side hustle, finding work can be a challenge. Luckily, the world is full of successful freelance designers who have advice to share, so let’s take a look at some clear-cut ways to get freelance graphic design work.
Develop Your Portfolio Website
For graphic designers as with any creative professional, the #1 thing potential clients will want to see is your work. Yes, they care whether you can be organized and professional and meet deadlines, but their top priority is the work they’re hiring you to do.
That’s why a design portfolio and personal website is so critical. It doesn’t have to be a $10,000 site, just something simple that shows off your work is all that’s needed. Even some free or low-cost website builders can get you started. Make sure the site includes your portfolio as well as a bio about your past experience and accolades.
Hop Onto Freelance Websites
Freelance websites are how many freelancers get started, and they can be terrific ways to start building a client base. These sites are essentially freelance marketplaces where potential clients go to hire independent contractors. There are countless freelance websites out there, like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99designs to name a few.
Keep in mind that some of these sites cater to all types of independent work. For instance, Upwork offers freelance graphic design jobs as well as writing jobs, web design gigs, SEO jobs, and much more. Others specialize in particular industries or types of work, like 99designs which focuses on designers exclusively.
Be Active on Social Media
Social media platforms allow new and established freelancers to build their online presence and professional reputations. It’s the same kind of social media marketing that’s been helping traditional businesses thrive for years.
The key is posting consistently – daily if possible. Post pictures of any graphic design work you have permission to share as well as personal passion projects, tips and insights from your professional expertise, and more. This can generate a strong following of potential clients who admire your work and will be quick to DM you for their next design project.
Join Freelance Groups
Freelance groups on social media have become increasingly popular as the number of freelancers has grown in the US and around the world. Today, they can be an excellent resource for advice as well as freelance design work.
Pay attention to a group’s focus before you join, though. Many groups allow members to post about gigs they’re hiring for, but others are strictly advice only. Both have value but in different circumstances.
Connect with Relevant Professionals
When most people are on the hunt for new clients, they focus on connecting with clients directly. Sometimes, though, the best design projects come about through collaborations with other freelancers instead.
Let’s say a company needs a new website, and on top of designing website features, they want custom graphics for the site. They might hire a web design specialist and web developers, and then those contractors say, “Hey, I know a great graphic designer who can take care of those graphics.” Voila, a job is born.
That’s why it helps to network with other professionals who often work on similar projects to you. For graphic designers, build a network of web designers as well as marketing strategists, social media marketers, branding consultants, and other potential collaboration partners.
Connect with Past Clients
Sometimes the trick isn’t finding clients, it’s learning how to find freelance work among the clients you already have. Why not check in with some clients you haven’t spoken with in a while? See how they’re doing, strike up a conversation, and rekindle the friendship. Let them know that you’re expanding your business in case they have any design needs or they know anyone else who does.
Finding New Graphic Design Work for Freelancers
For graphic design freelancers (and any independent contractor, for that matter), there are ups and downs. There will be periods of high pay and as much work as you can handle, but there will be dry spells too. No matter how established you are, the tips above can help you score that next great project and get the income flowing again.